Tied at one after two periods, the top-seeded Eden Prairie boys’ hockey team took things up a notch on Wednesday in the Class 2A state quarterfinals against St. Thomas Academy.
The Eagles exploded for five goals in the game’s final 13 minutes as Eden Prairie went on to defeat the Cadets 6-2 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. With the win, Eden Prairie advances to Friday’s semifinals.
In the opening period, the Eagles opened the scoring thanks to their power-play unit, which is scoring more than 30 percent of the time. Drew Holt, a member of Eden Prairie’s top power-play line, was credited with the goal to put the Eagles ahead 1-0.
The Eagles once again had the man advantage to open the second period but could not add to their lead. Shortly after St. Thomas Academy was back to full strength, the Cadets tied things up at 1 as Jared Wright scored.
These two teams stayed tied up at 1 until Carter Batchelder scored a little more than three minutes into the third period to put the Eagles ahead 2-1. Batchelder, a senior forward committed to play at Colorado College, had a pair of goals along with an assist in the win.
From there, Eden Prairie’s lead stretched out to three as Riku Brown and Jackson Blake scored to make it 4-1. After a St. Thomas Academy goal made it 4-2, the Eagles pushed back thanks to goals from Kam Langefels and Batchelder to put the game on ice as Eden Prairie emerged with a 6-2 win. It’s the third time the Eagles have defeated the Cadets this season.
Eden Prairie moves on to the state semifinals for the ninth consecutive time, dating back to 2003. As the top seed, the Eagles will face fourth-seeded Maple Grove. The game is slated to take place on Friday at 8 p.m. Eden Prairie has made it through each of the past two Class 2A finals and is looking for its first state championship since 2011.
The Crimson and Eagles enter this game with just one loss each. The two teams did not play in 2021. Maple Grove is led by Kyle Kukkonen. He was named the Star Tribune’s boys’ hockey Metro Player of the Year. He has 31 goals entering Friday’s game.
The entire boys’ and girls’ state hockey tournaments are taking place at Xcel Energy Center with limited seating due to COVID-19. All games are on KSTC-45 and can be streamed at prep45.com.